Digital revolutionary: Benz named first pure-play digital Chairman of RTDNA
The Chairman really serves as the face of RTDNA and journalism in the U.S. in general, so I'll be asked to speak on issues affecting journalists all over the world. Occasionally, I will go to Washington in order to advocate on behalf of the press. The Chairman, with our Executive Director, also oversees the organization.
CM: What does it mean for the industry that a digital journalist such as yourself was elected? How is the media industry changing overall?
KB: It's pretty amazing actually. Just a couple years ago, I don't think anyone would have guessed that a digital journalist would come to lead this association. Online journalism has matured in a short amount of time. We are often the first place people go to get their news, and we are certainly the most nimble platform for distributing information. Twitter really changed the game for journalists. Information can be sent out in real-time, making the evening news and the newspaper more of an historical record.
We really want to make sure online journalists get the respect we deserve, and that means making sure we all follow the same principals of journalism: telling the truth, acting independently, providing context and minimizing the harm we can do. Too often, those calling themselves journalists online failed to follow those basic guidelines. I think that's changing, and in my role, I hope to prove it.
CM: How does this position change your role or influence as Editor-in-Chief at CultureMap Austin?
KB: I hope to help raise the prominence and respectability of online journalism overall. I left a 30-year career in television news (15 of which were in Austin) and came over to CultureMap, because I really believe there is a revolution going on in the media. Our community demands more of journalists than covering car wrecks, murders and fires; they want news that is relevant and important to their lives and includes coverage of the cultural aspects of our lives. CultureMap, as well as some other excellent online organizations, are in the process of reinventing what "news" means and how it's delivered. It's great to be on the cutting edge of the revolution!
CM: What can we expect from you next?
KB: Well, I just got back from the RTDNA National Convention, so I'm only looking forward to getting back to work Monday morning and working with the best staff of online journalists in town. (Editor's note: He really said that. We didn't add that.) I love my job. And I'm having a great time. In a couple of weeks, I get the honor of handing out the National Edward R. Murrow Awards in New York. It's a great honor, but mostly I love living and working in Austin, one of the world's greatest cities.
CM: Thanks for talking to us, Kevin. See you on Monday!